The IP Road trail along Yale Lake is a relatively easy but long hike as it follows an old logging road, also known as the Yale Logging Road. The road has been closed since 2008 when a storm washed out sections of it. This is a beautiful hike with views of the lake to the west and cascades and rocky outcroppings of limestone and sideways lying basalt columns to the east.
We went there on a cool, cloudy day, but we got quite hot from the hiking despite the nice breezes off the lake. We noticed a side trail toward the lake early on in the hike that we think might lead to a beach on the northeastern shore of the lake. On another day, we might have been happy to jump in, but by the time we got back that far, we were too tired from walking. This is a long hike, but we made it all the way in to where the road is washed out, and what’s more, we made it back.
Yale Lake, Cougar, Washington
Distance: 7.3 miles, in and out
Difficulty: Easy peasy (except for the distance)
Panting stops: 0
Elevation changes: 120 feet
This trail is along an old logging road, so it is partially paved and partially gravel and in good condition. The most difficult footing is still relatively easy and comes at a place where a rise in the road accompanies a change to large gravel. The scenery along the road is gorgeous, and I can imagine it would be even more beautiful in the fall. We saw lots of wildflowers and just ripening blackberries in our early summer hike.
The road runs next to Yale Lake for most of its length, but it is high above the lake. We didn’t see any places where you could go down to it from our side, except perhaps the path we noticed running off to the right as we first started down the road. We could see as we came back that there appeared to be a nice beach at that end of the lake.
Along the other side is a steep cliff that has several waterfalls. At this time of the year, they weren’t running very much water through, and we could just barely see the falls. I notice they didn’t show up at all in my picture.
The hike ends after 3.7 miles where the road was washed out by storms.
How to get there
From Portland or Vancouver
Get on I-5 going north and take Exit 21 for WA 503 toward Cougar. Drive east for 30 miles. About three miles after Cougar, after the Yale Dam, the next unmarked paved road on the right (at the Skamania County Line) is your turn. Cross the bridge and take the right branch of the Y toward a gate and the trailhead.
From Battle Ground
Take WA 503 northeast. When you get to the place where it branches, take the spur toward Cougar. About three miles after Cougar, after the Yale Dam, the next unmarked paved road on the right (at the Skamania County Line) is your turn. Cross the bridge and take the right branch of the Y toward a gate and the trailhead.
Parking and facilities
There is parking for a couple cars at the trailhead and for several more along the road leading to it. There are no other facilities. Dogs are allowed on a leash.